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Low-Nickel Diet

By Linda Tarr Kent

If you suffer from dermatitis, it’s possible that you are sensitive to the mineral nickel. Following a low-nickel diet may be one step you can take to alleviate symptoms of your condition, which may include itchy, swollen or red skin, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society. If you are a woman, you are more likely to suffer from nickel sensitivity. About 17 percent of women are sensitive to nickel, whereas only 3 percent of men have this sensitivity, notes the Nickel Institute.

Foods to Avoid

If you are following a low-nickel diet, you need to cut foods that have high nickel content from your diet. These include canned vegetables, canned beans, canned spaghetti and canned fruit. Penn State University, or PSU, advises that you avoid nuts, dried fruit, cocoa and chocolate. You also need to restrict bran, sesame and sunflower seeds, pineapples, prunes, figs, dates, raspberries, peanuts, baking powder, almonds, shellfish, leeks, lettuce, lentils, spinach, soy protein powder, beans and peas.

Allowed Foods

On a low nickel diet it’s safer to eat broccoli, asparagus, corn, cucumbers, mushrooms, beets, cauliflower, potatoes, butter, yogurt, cheese, milk, eggs, poultry, meat, fish, coffee, rice, popcorn, macaroni and wheat flour, as well as baked goods that do not contain chocolate, almonds or other nuts, according to PSU.

Effects of Low-Nickel Foods

Some foods that do not have a high nickel content can actually aggravate nickel dermatitis. These include wine, beer, tuna, herring, mackerel, carrots, tomatoes, onions, apples and citrus fruits. However, you may be able to tolerate the vegetables on this list if if they are cooked, according to Penn State University.

Expert Insight

Following a low-nickel diet is helpful in clearing up dermatitis only rarely, according to the New Zealand Dermatological Society. Also, it’s impossible to eliminate nickel from your diet entirely because it is present in most foods.


In addition to watching your diet, you can avoid touching nickel that’s in silverware, jewelry, money and other metal items, note the experts at the dermatological society. Watch out for clothing fastenings such as zippers, bra hooks and snaps; eyeglass frames; personal items such as cell phones, lipstick or cigarette holders and key rings; household items such as scissors, toasters and bath plugs; and workplace items such as keyboards, paper clips or chainsaws. Also avoid using the first liter of water that's taken from your tap each day, according to Penn State University.

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